Okanagan International Children's Festival a hit with all ages

Okanagan International Children
Okanagan International Children's Festival bike raffle winner is Ethan Thorpe. The seven year old delivers papers for the Penticton Western News.
— image credit: Submitted Photo

After taking one year hiatus, the Okanagan International Children’s Festival returned with enthusiasm last weekend.

“From the community's perspective, they were all really excited to see it back. We had many, many people thanking us, including teachers and kids. That was great to see,” said Barb Haynes, executive director of the festival.

Organizers conservatively estimate that over the three days they had around 9,000 people come through the gates to enjoy entertainment, including headliner Fred Penner. In 2012 there were just over 10,000 people who attended.

“I think overall we were really happy. The entertainment was phenomenal, kids were great and Friday we were probably pretty close to being sold out.  We were packed to the rafters for most of the shows,” said Haynes.

New to the festival this year was the fundraising gala geared for adults called Illumination. It featured all the headlining acts.

“It was so much fun. I think we had 150 people and the proceeds of every ticket went right to the bottom line, which was what we needed. The show had rave reviews and was kids' entertainment with an adult twist. People were laughing hysterically,” said Haynes.

The mime Kaput, Tom Flanagan, brought a mix of acrobatics and comedy, along with his audience helper Barb Schneiderat, that Haynes said stole the show for adults at Illumination.

Organizers and volunteers are still in the process of cleaning up and debriefing the festival, but are looking forward at bringing it back again next year.

“It went so well this year I don’t see any reason for it to not go forward,” said Haynes.

Schools from across the region, as far away as Merritt, Princeton, Beaverdale and Vernon attended this year. Grants, fundraising efforts and donor support helped the festival financially.

“The children’s festival is one of those events that is only sustained by the generosity of this community, businesses and grants. We simply can’t charge a lot for tickets and to keep this going we really need community support.” said Haynes.


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